Jul 31, 2012

Back To School 2012: 10 Last Minute Things To Do With Your Kids BEFORE School Starts

I had Grand Plans for our summer this year.

No vacations, but lots of fun things to do around here.

Remember my Summer Bucket List?

Ummm, let's just say a few of those things didn't happen.

(And by a few, I mean several...or most.)

BUT, there's still a little time left, and we can make the most of it!

Here are 10 Things you should definitely try to fit in BEFORE the madness of school begins!

10. Go To The Drive In!  I LOVED the drive in when I was a kid, but my kids have yet to experience this fun summertime tradition.  We.  Will.  Make. It.  Happen.

9.  Have a Yes Day!  My friend does this with her kids and they love it.  It's a day where the answer is always yes, (within reason).  Ice Cream for Breakfast?  Yes!  Spending The Day on The Wii?  Yes!  Staying up late?  Yes!

8.  Nigh time Fun Run!  This is a fun little tradition I heard about last year.  After you put the kids to bed, wait about 30 minutes, and then run in and tell them it's "fun run" time.  You all load into the car, pj's and all, and drive to do something fun like ice cream, or a park, or maybe even the drive-in :)

7.  Camp Out In the Backyard!  This was something I did every year as a kid, and it was so much fun!  Let the kids invite a few friends over and make your backyard your own little camping ground!

6.  PJ Day!  This is actually one of my favorite days, but the kids enjoy it too.  Spend the ENTIRE day in pj's doing fun stuff around the house.  Snacks, movies, board games, whatever!

5.  Water Park Day!  Soon, all the water parks will be closed.  So take advantage of them now before homework and fall sports take over.  If visiting a Water Park isn't in the budget, you can visit a spray ground, or even make your own water park at home!  Check out this great site for ideas!

4.  Hiking!  A family hiking day has become a tradition of ours, and we love it.  It's a great time for family to reconnect and talk about nature, what's going on in their lives and get some great exercise!

3.  Garage Sales!  I have said it a million times, but kids love going to garage sales!  Give them a budget and set out to let them find their own little treasures.  It teaches them about money, value and it's a great time for the whole family.

2.  A Park Tour!  Our city has about 4 million public parks (okay, I might be exaggerating a little, but it's a lot!), and we haven't even come close to visiting them all.  I'm betting the area you live in has more than you would have thought, too.  Take the kids on a tour of parks for an entire day and discover what your city/area has to offer!

1.  A Lemonade Stand!  no summer is complete without one!

Do you have any other great ideas for last minute Summer Fun?  Share!  Share!  Share!

I will be linking up with Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings!

Jul 29, 2012

Back To School 2012: Fashion For Kids

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It's that time again!

All the stores are starting their Back-To-School sales, and we start to think about what our kids will be wearing.

If your school shopping experience is anything like mine, it usually involves arguing over what's cool vs. what's affordable.

My kids want whatever's in style, no matter the cost.

I want to not have to take out a second mortgage on my house in order for them to achieve that "cool look".

I've done a little research on what's "in" for this season, and that way, you can be on the lookout for a good deal.

That way, we ALL win!

For Girls, the trends are:

Plaid, Bright Colors, Argyle, Anything that sparkles (think sequins and glitter!), Peace Signs, Animal Prints, Dresses and Leggings, and cutesy graphic tees.

Check out my 'Back To School For Girls' Pinterest Page for samples of some of these looks and where to find them:

For Boys, the trends are:

Plaid, Skater Style (think skinny jeans, and tees), Argyle, High-Top Shoes, Military/Camo, Layering, Fedora Hats, and Graphic Tees.

You can also check out my 'Back To School For Boys' Pinterest Page for samples of these looks, too.

Here are a few tips to help you as you shop:

  • Take note of the styles that are in, and then look for them at discount places like Target or WalMart.  They may not have as big of a selection of "in" styles, but even if you can just get a few pieces there, that will help!
  • Try to find jeans, khaki's, and other basics at places like Goodwill and second hand shops.  I always get lucky and find tons of Gap and Old Navy jeans at my local Goodwill!
  • Try to keep from buying sweaters, coats etc. until later in the fall.  Even though they are out now, kids won't wear them for a while, and by then, the prices will be much better!
  • Shop armed with coupons!  Gymboree often sends out 30% off coupons, and they also have a loyalty card.  Gap and The Children's Place do the same.  Save those for the few items that you really want that you know you won't be able to find someplace else.
  • Set a Budget and stick to it!  You don't need to buy everything all at once.  Most likely, your kids can and will be wearing most of their summer shorts and tops for the first month or so.  Time is money and you can be saving for more items while they are wearing those.
  • Shop Online when you can!  Often, you will get a better price for the same items as in the store!

I hope this helps you as you set out to keep your kids in style this season!

Jul 27, 2012

Random Stuff for Friday

A few things swirling around in this brain of mine, so I thought I would share!

  • Starting Monday, I'll be doing some Back To School posts.  Stay tuned!
  • Cheer camp also starts for us next Monday, and I am not nearly as prepared as I should be!
  • My oldest, Addy, had a little stomach thing earlier this week and I just know that it's going to strike the rest of us JUST as cheer camp starts. That is soooo my luck!
  • I have the best intentions of eating right and exercising, but why does food have to taste so good?  And why is exercise from the devil?
  • I haven't been on a date with my hubby in a while now, and I seriously need one.  But I don't see any time in the near future that it's going to be possible because our schedules are so crazy! :(
  • Speaking of my hubby, August 31st will be our 10 year Anniversary and I still haven't thought of anything special for us to do.  Money is tight this time of year, so no big trip, but we still want to do something a little more special than going out to dinner... Any ideas??
  • Still waiting for the housekeeper, the cook and the nanny to show up.
  • I hate it that this summer has been so short, but I'm REALLY ready for the kids to go back to school.  I think they're ready too.
  • Iced Coffee is one of God's greatest inventions!
  • Big Brother is in full swing right now and I am LOVING it!  Janelle continues to be one of my all time faves, but Mike Boogie is driving me bonkers with his arrogance.
  • And while we're on the topic of reality TV, I think Emily (on the Bachelorette) made the right choice.  I ADORED Arie, (maybe more than I should have), but I think Jef was suited more for Emily.  Here's hoping Arie is the next Bachelor!

That is all :)  Have a great weekend!

Jul 26, 2012

I'm No Trophy Wife

My friends and I were watching The Bachelorette the other week, and it was the Men Tell All episode.

If you also watched the show, then you'll know what I'm talking about.

If you didn't, keep reading...there's a point.

There was this guy, named Ryan, who kept referring to the fact that he wanted a 'Trophey wife".

(Probably not the best strategy if he's trying to win a girls heart.)

But my friends and I got to talking about it after and someone said that they would like it if their husband thought of them as a trophy wife.

And I laughed and said, "I'm pretty sure my husband wouldn't call me his trophy wife.  Maybe a 'participation medal' wife, but not a trophy wife.

We all had a good laugh, (and yes, I can laugh at myself), and moved onto other important topics.

{Like who we thought her final pick would be.}

But in the days following, I gave a little more thought to the comment.

And here's my conclusion:

No, I'm not a trophy wife.

I have a lot of weight to lose.  And my hair needs a new cut.  And my highlights need to be redone to cover the gray that is taking over.  And I'm starting to get wrinkles on my forehead.  And sometimes there are little hairs that have started to grow on my chin that I need to pluck.  And I don't shave every day.  And I stay in yoga pants more than I should.  And I never exercise.  And these crazy purple veins have started showing up on my legs.  And I break out a lot more than I used to.  And I hardly ever do my nails anymore. 

{Good gravy, I sound like a walking disaster.}

But here's the thing.

My husband treats me like a trophy wife.

From listening to him, you would think that I am a super model with a beaming smile, gorgeous hair, a closet full of designer clothes, and a personality that could win over just about anyone.

And every day, he tells me how pretty I am and how much he loves me.

And even with all the stuff I listed above, I feel like the most beautiful girl in the world.

Because of his love for me.

So no, I'm not a trophy wife. 

But I'm pretty sure he's my trophy husband!

Jul 25, 2012

A Girl And Her Blankie

Photo: A girl and her blankie

More than not, this is how you will find Faith in our house.

She's cuddled up on the couch, or her bed, or our bed...but always with blankie.

She LOVES that blankie almost more than anything else.

In fact, she calls it "she".

As in, "Mom, have you seen my blankie?  I can't find her."

And while it's the sweetest thing in the world that she loves that blankie so much, there is one little problem.

She also sucks her thumb when she has blankie.

And the dentist and pediatrician keep telling us that she has to stop sucking her thumb, but other than taking blankie away, we have tried everything.

No luck.

As soon as she starts holding blankie, the thumb goes in the mouth.

Soooo, we are left with a decision.

Do we take blankie away, (in which case there will be many tears, tantrums and and pretty much no sleep for at least several days), OR do I let her keep her blankie and just accept the fact that she may be still sucking her thumb in high school?

I'm just afraid to remove blankie because it's so special to her and has been with her since she was an infant.  It makes her feel safe and loved and happy.

But I have a feeling that buck teeth and sucking her thumb in high school will kind of have the opposite effect.

Have you been down this road?  What did you do?  And how did it go?

Jul 24, 2012

Ten Things You Should Do NOW To Prepare For Christmas

It's no secret that Christmas is my ABSOLUTE favorite Holiday!

And every year I like to start a little earlier on my planning.

This year, I am starting now...

And you should too!

Here's Ten Things You can do NOW to help you get a head start!

10.  Buy Stocking Stuffers!  This is a GREAT time to buy lots of stocking stuffers because of the back-to-school prices!  You can get markers, crayons, note pads, stickers, and other goodies for almost nothing!

9.  Start Saving!  This is a good time to start deciding what the big items on the Christmas lists will be and start budgeting for them.  For example, if your kid wants an ipod touch and you know that will be around $200, start saving $40 per month aside for that now and you won't have to come up with the cash all at one time in December, when there are lots of other expenses.

8.  Plan Your Christmas Break!  This is the time to start making travel plans for the Holidays.  If you think you're going to go out of town, decide if you'll fly or drive.  Start pricing flights and hotels, and don't forget to think about weather conditions etc. and plan extra time for them. 

7.  Fill Your Calender!  If you're anything like me, December fills up quick.  Before I know it, I have a gazillion commitments and I realize I'm not getting to do the things I really wanted to do with my own family.  Sit down with your spouse and kids and decide what fun activities you want to do as a family (looking at lights, seeing a Holiday movie, Christmas parade etc.), and write those things down on your calender so that when friends ask about getting together, you already have days marked off for your own family and can plan around them!

6.  Find New Traditions!  Maybe it's time to start Elf on The Shelf, or maybe you want to start an annual Christmas party, or maybe you want to start doing an Advent calender with the kids.  Whatever it is, start researching some fun things to celebrate the season with your family now, so that you won't be running behind when the time comes.

5.  Try New Recipes!  Nothing is worse than finding a recipe that sounds fabulous and you serve it at your Holiday feast only to discover that it's horrible.  Or, maybe it takes twice the time to cook than you thought it would.  Or maybe you need to substitute ingredients.  Trust me when I say it's better to start trying these "amazing" recipes out on your family now to know what works and what doesn't.  That way, your feast will be exactly what you want it to be.

4.  Go through Your Decorations and Lights!  Now is the time to find out if your lights etc. are working and if your decorations are in need of an overhaul.  That way, you can watch the department store sales, search garage sales, and look online to catch the best deals.

3.  Get Crafty!  If you think you might want to actually make some of the gifts you'll be giving, now would be the time to start those projects.  Whether you're sewing a quilt, refinishing a piece of furniture you found a yard sale for someone, or making a scrap book, this is the perfect time to get started so you'll have plenty of time to finish without feeling rushed.

2.  Make Some Lists!  Start preparing a list of people you'll be sending cards to, gathering addresses, setting a budget, making lists of people you'll be buying for, etc.  This will help you to be more organized as the time gets closer.

1.  Pay Attention!  Now is the time to start paying attention to what your family and friends talk about.  Listen to your husband when he says he really likes a new magazine and think about getting him a subscription.  Or, when your friend mentions that she can't find the right necklace to go with her dress, you can be on the look out.  This will keep you from that, "oh no!  I have no idea what to get them" crisis that always takes over holiday shopping!  And the best key is to WRITE IT DOWN!!  I promise you, if you don't, you will forget!

Hope that this helps you to start thinking ahead.

Because after all, Christmas is only 153 days away! :)

I will be linking up with Many Little Blessings for Top Ten Tuesday and We Are THAT Family For WFMW.  Be sure to check them out!

Jul 23, 2012

The Loneliness

Many people have asked me how I'm doing since my mom has passed.

It's been almost 2 months now.

And still, some days, it feels like it was yesterday.

Honestly, most days are good.  I keep busy, and I have a TON of friends and family around to support me.

But it's still hard.

Because in the back of my mind, it's always there.  That feeling that something is missing.  Or more accurately, someone is missing.

It's weird that even when there are so many around, without that one special person, you can still feel so lonely.

And it's not even that I was with her all the time.  But knowing she was there when I did need her made all the difference.

The other day, we were riding in the car and my daughter said she had a tummy ache.  For half a second, I thought to call my mom and talk to her about it, because I always did that when my girls were sick.

Or when I want to run a quick errand but don't want to take the girls with me, I want to be able to pick up the phone and ask mom to watch them.

Or when something exciting happens, I want to be able to tell her all about it.

And this morning in church, we sang one of her favorite hymns, and I could remember her singing it in church when I was growing up.

So much I miss about her.

Wishing so badly that she were still here.

But learning to adjust to the way life is now.

Jul 17, 2012

Garage Sale Tips

This week I am preparing for a garage sale.

Aren't you jealous??

Especially because it's in the 90's here and really, what sounds like more fun than going through boxes of random, old junk in your sweltering garage??

It's a party over here!

Actually, even though it's hot, I am glad to do it.

We have a TON of stuff to get rid of.

Between my parents stuff and mine, there is a pleasant mix of burp clothes that are 8 years old, onsies, naked Barbies, mauve decorative pillows, faux flower arrangements, and decade old appliances. 

I know, hot items!

And for those of you who also want to experience the thrill of having a Garage Sale, I have a few tips that might help.

10.  Advertise in the Paper.  I have sometimes chosen not to advertise in the paper thinking that posting it on my Facebook page and on Craigslist was enough.  But it really DOES make a difference in the amount of traffic you get.  It's usually around $30-$40, but you'll definitely make that back.

9.  Post Clear Signs.  People need to be able to find you.  There's nothing more annoying than driving around looking for a garage sale and there's no clear directions.  People usually give up after a few minutes of looking.

8.  Coordinate with neighbors/friends.  I don't always do this, but when I do, I usually have much more success.  If your neighborhood or city does a Garage Sale date, try to do yours then, too.  If not, get together with a few friends and do a multi-family one.

7.  Sell Refreshments.  Kids love to get involved and this is a great way for them to do it.  Let them sell Lemonade, Water, Cookies, whatever.  People almost always buy from kids, and on hot days, you may make more on drinks then on your old junk :)

6.  Don't Price too high!  I know that you think great grandma's quilt is worth millions, but to someone else, it's just a dusty, old quilt.  Be reasonable, and be willing to negotiate.  After all, the goal is to get rid of things you're not using.

5.   Have Change!  Be sure to go the day before and get plenty of Quarters, One's and Fives.  I can't tell you how many sales I've been the first person to, and the seller can't make change.  Annoying!

4.  Be Organized.  Your stuff will sell better if it's laid out in an organized and clear way.  Pile/Hang clothes by size, put house decorations on one table, Put all the tools in one bin...basically make it easy for your buyers to find what they would be interested in.

3.  Clean Your Stuff!  I once found a Janie and Jack dress at a Garage sale that I KNEW was worth $50.  The seller was asking $20.  Only problem was, there was a small stain on the front.  When I showed her and offered her $5, she took it because she didn't know if the stain would come out.  Fortunately for me, it did.  My daughter wore it and I resold it on ebay for $50!  Bottom line:  Wash and clean your stuff and you will bring a higher price!

2.  Have Bags.  Some buyers want to load up on stuff, so make it easy for them by having bags that they can put stuff in.

1.  Let it all go!  As I said, the main goal is to get rid of stuff.  If it's the last day, make it clear that everything has to go, so tell them to make an offer!  THEN, have a plan to immediately take anything left to Goodwill.  (In some area's, Goodwill will bring a truck to you and collect the stuff). 

Do You Have Any Other Tips For a Successful Garage Sale??  If so, I'd LOVE to hear them!!

Jul 16, 2012

Do You Get Me??

I started this here blog of mine about a year and a half ago.

I could tell you all the reasons why, but basically it's just because I wanted to.

I have fun writing and it's my creative outlet.

{Or the reason I don't have a drinking problem.  Take your pick}

But sometimes I wonder if people get me.

As in, when you read what I write, do you get what I'm trying to say?

A big part of my writing is humor and/or sarcasm.  But does that come across?

Or do people think I am truly a nut job who takes lots of headmeds and drinks to get through her day?

{Okay, maybe some of that is actually true...}

Or maybe you just think I'm bitter.

I don't know.

Because sometimes I think the way I read it in my head could be waaaaay different that the way *you* read it.

It's like texting or email.

Someone might mean nothing but loveliness, but I read it and think they have named me their arch enemy.

I have thought about vlogging, (video blogging for those who aren't blog savvy), but I pretty much never wear a bra when I'm at home, so that could be awkward.

{If my parents, in-laws or any other relatives are still reading at this point, I'm truly sorry if I've embarrassed or offended you...}

But the thing is, I really do hope people are reading, and getting what I write.

Because I feel like I literally pour myself out onto these posts.  And I care what you think.

Whether you're laughing, or getting teary eyed, or it causes you to take a moment and consider something.

I hope that in some way, you feel even a little bit connected to me.

Because for me, that's what this is all about.

Jul 13, 2012

Summertime Blues

Summers are interesting.

I love the extra time with the girls, the laid back schedule, and the time at the pool.

But, there is one teensy weensy thing I DO NOT like.

The fact that I have to entertain my kids All.  Day.  Long.

After the first couple of weeks, they start to complain that all parks are the same.

{Which they pretty much are}

And we have seen every kid friendly movie at the theaters.  And on Netflix.  And on Demand. 

They only want to go to the pool when their friends are there, (which we never seem to predict correctly), and only if I take out a personal loan to afford enough snack bar items to keep them happy.

Plus, they are fighting pretty much every single second of the day.

"She touched me"

"She took my doll"

"She turned the TV off"

"She said I couldn't come in her room"

"She's cutting my hair"

It never ends.

And I am starting to lose my mind....

And I think people are starting to notice.

I am so used to speaking through clenched teeth that I have started answering my phone that way.

{My sincerest apologies to Police and Fire Widow's and Children's Fund.  I really do think it's a great cause...}

And as I'm trying to check out at the library, (as the girls literally scream and kick at one another behind me), the librarian looks at me like I'm crazy.

{Which I pretty much am}

I probably should ask if she could recommend any good parenting books.

But I think we both know it's a lost cause.

So I ask about books on wine instead.

And Valium.

Hey, whatever gets us through, right?

I keep trying to motivate myself into a better mood, telling myself that these times are precious and that one day soon I will wish I had them all back.

But then one of my girls spills a bottle of juice all over the floor and jerks me back to reality.

The truth is, as much as I DO love having them home, I am really ready for school to start.

Please tell me I'm not the only one??!!

Jul 12, 2012

The Fun Starts Tonight!

photo link

Are you all as excited as I  am that Big Brother starts tonight??

It is my FAVORITE show, and I look forward to it every summer!

I know it's cheesy and goofy and about as reality as the princesses at Disney World, but I can't get enough of it.

Plus, it kind of has special meaning to me because it's one of the few shows that my husband and I actually both like and we never miss an episode of watching together.

It's kind of like our own special date time.

I remember right after I had Faith, I was basically in bed recovering from the c-section for the first few weeks it was on.

Jeremy would put Addy to bed, bring me a Hershey bar, (one of the only things I could eat at the time), and we would just sit and watch it together.

During a time of mostly nothing but pain and boredom, it was the highlight of my week.

Plus, since we have watched it together for so many years, we have developed our "favorites".

Jeff and Jordan are definitely my favorite couple of all time, and I REALLY think they should have their own reality show.

And I pretty much can't stand Rachel and Brendan.  Or Jesse. 

But I LOVED Janelle!

Anyhow...will you be watching??

Who are your favorites?

Who is your least favorite?

Jul 10, 2012

How To Raise The Perfect Children

Did you seriously think I was going to say I had the answer to this?

The truth is, I don't think there are perfect children.

And even if there were, I wouldn't have a clue about how to raise them.

Anyone who knows my kids knows FOR SURE that they aren't even in the same galaxy as perfect. 

In fact, if my kids don't end up in juvy, I feel like I've done my job well.

{Okay, maybe over exaggerating a little here.  They're not quite on their way to juvy...}

{BTW, does juvy even exist anymore??}

But isn't it crazy how much we, as moms, worry about our kids, and try to make them as perfect as possible?

We teach them to read before kindergarten so that they'll be in the top of their class.

We take them to play dates when they're one so they'll begin to develop good social skills.

We feed them organic non-fat food so that they will never be overweight or sick.

We put them in every sport available so that they'll develop athletically.

We make them take piano and art so they'll be well rounded.

We make them double check their homework so there's no mistakes.

We watch their every move so that they'll never get hurt.

We decide who they can be friends with so that we can control their influences.

We demand good behavior at all times.

We want them to have a sense of humor, but not to be too silly.

We buy them the best clothes so that other kids, (and moms), will notice.

We want them to be well liked.

We threaten them with the consequences of bad choices.

I mean, this list could seriously go on for days...

But why??

Why do we do all of these things?

And it's not that we would ever say we are trying to raise perfect kids, but isn't that what all of these actions point towards?

Is it that we think it will help our kids have a better life?

Is it that we think we can help them to avoid all the pain and hard times that life brings?

Because we can't.

As much as we might want to, life will challenge them. 

And I don't think it's our job to make them perfect, as much as it is to love them through the challenges.

And please don't think I'm pointing fingers. 

I am guilty of several of the statements above.

But I'm learning that maybe I need to step back and re-think things.

Maybe my kids don't want to do sports anymore.  Maybe they're more artsy kind of kids.  I'm gonna be okay with that.

Maybe they should learn that it's okay to make a mistake on your homework.  Sometimes you remember better that way.

Maybe they need to make a friend that comes from a family different from ours.  Maybe they can teach each other a few things.

Maybe they need to be as goofy as six and eight year olds should be.  And I need to not let it bother me.

And maybe, just maybe, they need to experience some of life's really tough consequences so that they will know that when times are tough, Jesus still loves them, and so does momma.

I'll be linking up with We Are THAT Family for WFMW.  Go ahead and see what's working!

My Super Sweet Six Year Old

My Sweet little Faith.

She is full of spunk.

She is singing all the time.

She believes in fairies and princesses.

She is smart.

She says the craziest and funniest things.

She loves her blankie almost as much as she loves her momma.

She is a snuggler.

She is full of emotion.

She loves to play pretend.

She wants to be just like her big sister.

She is very independent.

She loves Jesus.

She has the sweetest smile.

She is strong, yet sensitive.

She loves snacks.

She could play Barbies for hours.

She is inquisitive.

She wants everyone to be her friend.

She is a dreamer.

She loves movies.

She believes that her daddy hangs the moon.

She is beautiful.

She is my baby.

She is six.

Happy Birthday to my precious little girl!

Jul 9, 2012

The Ice Cream Extravaganza

Tomorrow my five year old will become a BIG 6 year old.

I'm still in denial about that.

But, I will tell you about the Ice Cream party we had this past weekend to celebrate!

I got this fun idea from Pinterest, (of course I did.  It's like I can't have one original thought anymore!), and I thought it would be perfect for her July birthday!

I had it all planned out.  We would have fun ice cream themed games and decorations and it would all be outside where there is plenty of room for that kind of messiness.

But then Ohio got all confused and thought it was Arizona for a few days.

And it was 105 degrees!!!!

Ummm, change of plans.

Pretty sure kids passing out from heat stroke wouldn't make for happy 6th birthday memories.

So, I ran to Target and got a slip-n-slide and a crazy sprinkler for the kids to play in, called all the parents and told them to bring swimsuits and towels, and set up the decorations and ice cream inside the best I could.

It wasn't *exactly* what I was planning for, but I still think it turned out pretty well.  The kids had a blast and my birthday girl said, "it was the BEST party EVER!".

Couldn't ask for more than that :)

Here are the details from the day...

We did pin the nose on the clown game first.  I had planned for pin the cherry on the sundae, but that didn't happen.

Then we read the story "The Ice Cream King" by Steve Metzger.

After that, it was time to sing to the birthday girl!  I had mini cupcakes for the kids, so she got to blow out her candle with those.

Then it was time for ice cream!

Toppings included: Chocolate, strawberry and caramel syrup, bananas, strawberries, crushed oreos, mini chocolate chips, gummy worms, m&m's, sprinkles, cherries and whipped cream.

We also had cones in case someone preferred that.

After eating, it was time for water games, and then the pinata, and then gifts.

And of course, after gifts the kids just wanted to play in the water again.

I don't blame them because I did too!

The ice cream table!

The fun ice cream bowls I found!


for decorations, I made "sundaes" out of tissue paper and red pom-poms.

Birthday Cupcakes

My sweet girl and her Sundae creation!

Kids enjoying their treats

Water fun!


Such a fun group of kids!

Jul 5, 2012

Grilled Cheese Perfection!

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Sometimes, it's the simple things that are the best.

Take grilled cheese for instance.

It's so simple, but soooooo yummy!

And, I make a pretty mean grilled cheese sandwich, if I do say so myself.

{Okay, it's not mean at all.  It's really very nice.  In fact, it could become your best friend.}

I actually prefer my grilled cheese over any other grilled cheese that I've ever had....even in those expensive restaurants!

And my family loves it, too. 

So, I'm sharing my grilled cheese secrets with you!

Here's what you need for 1 sandwich:

2 pieces of Texas Toast (you can use other bread, but this one is thick and holds up well against the crazy amount of cheese on this sandwich!)
Butter or margarine
2 slices of American Cheese
1 slice of Swiss Cheese
1 slice of Cheddar Cheese

Spray your pan with cooking spray and turn it on to medium heat.  While your pan is heating up, butter one side of each piece of bread. 

Lay one piece of bread, buttered side down, on your pan.  You should hear a slight sizzle. 

Now, this next step is important!  Lay 2 pieces of American Cheese down.  Then the Swiss, and then the Cheddar.  DO NOT mix up the order!  There is something about having the cheeses in that order that make it so good.  I think it's because the Swiss is a little bitter, and the American and Cheddar are sweeter. 

Next layer place the other piece of bread, butter side up, on top. 

After about 4-5 minutes, flip the sandwich over.  The side that was on the bottom first should be golden.


After another minute or so, go ahead and put a lid on top of the pan.  It helps the cheese to melt without having to leave your bread on too long.

After about 2 minutes, remove the lid and press down the sandwich slightly with your spatula.

Once the second side is golden brown, remove your sandwich and cut it across. 

Or straight.

Or in fours.

It's really your choice...

And just look at that yummy, melty cheese! 

WARNING:  The cheese will be molten hot at this point.  I know it's hard, but try to wait a few minutes to give it a chance to cool off.

And then enjoy the best grilled cheese you've ever had!

Jul 3, 2012

Red, White, And Blue

How do you plan to celebrate the 4th??

Our plans are still up in the air, which I actually don't mind at all.

All I *do* know is that I'm going to have to march in a parade in about 100 degree heat with approximately 50 little girls, which should be a TON of fun!

If I make it the whole way without passing out, I may just decide to come home and call it a day.

They deliver pizza on the 4th, right?!

Anyhoo...if you have fun plans and need a little inspiration or help, feel free to take a look at my Pinterest Board full of Patriotic goodness. 

Here's hoping you have a happy and safe 4th of July!!

Jul 2, 2012

My Sweet Independence

The 4th of July is upon us.

It's a time to celebrate our Nation's Independence, but maybe also some of our own.

Heaven knows I could use a little independence from...well, a lot of stuff.


-A certain 8-year-old who *never* stops asking questions.  It's like she actually needs to learn stuff.


-My cell phone.  It is constantly ringing because I am just soooo important and everyone needs to get ahold of me.


-Cooking.  This family of mine wants a meal every single night.  Seriosuly!


-Being a chauffer to a gazillion activities.  When will my five and eight year old finally learn to drive?


-Answering emails.  I think I'm going to put an automantic reply that says something to the effect of: "I broke up with email a long time ago.  Please text me if you want a reply."


-Cleaning...oh wait.  I still haven't actually started that yet.



Ahhhh yes, the BIG D-word.

I have longed for independence from dieting for, oh let's see, about all my life now. 

Let's face it, for most of us, dieting never works.  Mostly because we want to enjoy the good things in life, and the truth is that the good things are almost always the things that are off limits.

Like chocolate. 

If it weren't for my husband, chocolate would be the love of my life.

But because I'm always trying to lose weight, I am always feeling guilty about my love affair with it.

Or should I say, WAS feeling guilty?


Now I don't have to anymore!!!!!!!!!!

Hershey's has new chocolates, called Simple Pleasures, and they are Crazy Good!

When I was asked to sample these yummy little bites of heaven and blog about them, it was a no brainer! 

They have Dark Chocolates with Chocolate Creme (my fave!), Milk Chocolates with White Creme, and Milk Chocolates with Chocolate Creme.  They are individually wrapped and they taste just like expensive little creams that you find at those specialty chocolate shops!


Hershey’s Simple Pleasures chocolates have 30 percent less fat than the average leading milk chocolates. 

Ummm, did you read what I just wrote?!

Chocolate.  With 30 percent less fat.  That tastes as good as specialty chocolate.


I'm ALL IN on this one folks.

You want in too?

Of course you do!

Then get on over to the Hershey's Simple Pleasures Facebook Page and sign the Decleration of Sweet Independence!  You could win some SWEET prizes including a $100 Gift Card or
Free Chocolate!!

Now tell me, what do you need some Sweet Independence from??

I was compensated for this post and provided this product for free from Hershey's,  All opinions are completely true, and completely mine.  I would NEVER recommend a product I didn't like.  You can read my full disclosure here.